Sunday, June 2, 2013

Generational Nerdery

When I was a kid, my Dad shared a lot of his passions with me: aviation, history, public speaking, movies, and so on.  Dad was a busy guy who really didn't have a lot of time for hobbies and whimsical interests, something I have made up for in spades.  Like him though, I am gratified to see my offspring expressing an interest in the things I appreciate, like wanting to watch episodes of Firefly with me now that Glory is old enough to appreciate them.

A month back, Fenya and I (and about 54,000 other people) visited the Calgary Comic Expo while Glory and Audrey attended a feis.  The highlight of our expedition was having our picture taken with the legendary Stan Lee, as detailed previously, but there were lots of other things that made this an enjoyable venture.

There were lots of shopping opportunities, and even though I had come with no needs whatsoever, I still managed to acquire more nerdly goods, like a Green Lantern hoodie for work.  Weta workshop from New Zealand, despite being a later arrival, had a huge retail and display presence featuring lots of items from The Hobbit, and Fenya took advantage of the chance to have her picture taken with a full-scale Gollum model.  I picked up a couple of fridge magnets made to look like the signs for the Green Dragon and Prancing Pony inns of Middle Earth.

There were t-shirts and goodies galore in the larger vendor's area, and while I grabbed some Firefly-themed decals for the Flex, Fenya showed exemplary taste in getting a Wolverine t-shirt dress.  I'm not sure how much use it is going to get though, since the first time she wore it to school, someone somehow mistook our beloved Canadian X-Man for Pikachu.  I don't believe this has ever happened to Logan himself, but I have a pretty good idea how we would respond, and I'm relieved Fenya didn't feel obligated to emulate him.

One of the biggest draws at cons of this kind are the various guests from the field of comic books, movie, and television, and a person could potentially spend an ungodly amount of money obtaining photographs and autographs from then, but I limited myself to our photo with Stan Lee and an autograph from one of my favourite film directors, John Carpenter (Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing).  I also got renowned comic artist Neal Adams to autograph the hardback copy of Superman Versus Muhammad Ali I got a couple of Christmases ago, as well as a print for a friend.

We also had an opportunity to hear Stan Lee speak to a captivated audience, and his candour, effusiveness, and obvious love for what he does as well as his appreciation for the fans who come out to see him, made this a genuine treat.

Costumes abounded, but I always feel awkward asking the wearer if I can take their photo, and certainly wouldn't want to proceed without permission.  Besides, one party or the other is always coming or going from or to someplace, and you could easily spend an entire day doing nothing but snapping pics of costumes that cover almost every aspect of pop culture, from comics to movies and television through video games and tabletop games alike.    It's a bit surreal to see a Warhammer 40,000 Raven Guard stride past a Spartan from Halo, especially when you've just seen a fantastic iteration of The Question that looked like he stepped right out of the DC Animated universe.  I did make an exception for the two costumes that hearkened the furthest back to my childhood:

There was also a Back To The Future Delorean that you could pay to sit in, with money going to charity.  After taking the official pic, they not only let me snap a couple of my own of Fenya at the wheel, but took my camera so I could have one taken with her.

The time I spent with Fenya was far and away my favourite part of the trip, even while waiting in line with aching feet for our Stan Lee pic, or just jawing on the car-ride down, or while watching the White House Correspondents Dinner when we got back to the hotel, which is 'affectionately' known in the Beltway as Nerd Prom.  Sharing an interest in things often dismissed by the mainstream is at least as big a part of being a nerd as spotting the internal inconsistencies in your preferred imaginary universe.

'Professional nerd' Wil Wheaton was recently featured in a video shot by a new mum at the Calgary Expo, who asked him to describe what makes being a nerd awesome to her own daughter, and his response is, unsurprisingly, heartfelt, poignant and insightful.

The way we share the things we love, the courage to be passionate about those things in the face of scorn or resistance, the connections we make with other people in pursuit of that passion, these are all the things I am trying to pass on to both my daughters without even being fully conscious of it.  While I sometimes worry I am perhaps setting them up as targets for schoolyard mocking, I hope I am also showing them the worth of enduring it.

It certainly helps my credibility to have Wil Wheaton back me up!

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